Best employers secret #4: Less management

Nik Penhale Smith

As we approach the half way stage of our 7 secretes of the best employers, we discuss secret number four: less management.

How less management can help

The ever changing landscape of the workforce is something that we, as an HR oriented organisation, see on an almost daily basis. Generation Y and millennials have a much different approach and expectation to work than their predecessors. On top of this, the advances in technology and communication make today’s workplace almost unrecognisable from 10 years ago.

From working with multinational organisations over the past two decades, we have seen that the organisations with the highest employee engagement and employee commitment are those that have been able to foresee and act upon the rapid changes in employee expectation, technology and ways of working. More specifically, the most engaged organisations are those that are less top heavy and that scale back the number of management layers.

When organisations remove management layers, employees feel more liberated. The increase in liberty improves motivation in employees, creates more space for innovation and creativity and ultimately, helps create organisations that are flexible enough to respond to change.

Driving employee engagement

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Removing traditional management

In normal circumstances we would always avoid referencing our own organisation as a case study, however in this case, we think it is appropriate to do so. After considering the above and years of seeing the negative effects that too much management can have, our organisation decided to undertake drastic changes. Sometime ago, Effectory International changed from an old styled, hierarchical, tayloristic organisation to a flat structured organisation, without managers.

In short, the fundamental basis of our flat organisation is that there are no managers and employees are given full responsibility for their own work. Any major decision is taken by teams, and we operate a system of democracy and feedback. Individual employees are encouraged to develop their leadership skills, so that the leadership void left by managers is filled.

Since Effectory International did away with traditional management, employees take much more responsibility.”

We have seen that employees take much more responsibility, and the consciousness of the organisation has grown tremendously. Creativity and innovation have flowed, and conclusively, our internal employee surveys show that engagement and commitment has increased.

Admittedly a flat structured organisation is an extreme example of less management, but the results have none the less been spectacular. We don’t expect everyone to follow our example but in general, even cutting out one management layer creates positive impact.